SKHS Summer Newsletter

August 2016

From the Desk of Mr. Mezzanotte...

Believe it or not, the school year is less than a month away! That gives us all plenty of time to enjoy more summer fun, but I thought it would still be helpful to share some important information in preparation for the upcoming school year. The SKHS administrative team has been very busy this summer getting ready for what should be an outstanding school year. I am thrilled to welcome in a new administrative team, Shivali Finkelstein, Assistant Principal for STEAM, and Karen Ryan, Assistant Principal for Humanities. Shivali and Karen officially started on July 1st. Additionally, we have two new Deans of Students starting in the fall. Matthew Shiels, formerly of the social studies department will serve as the Dean for students in grades 9 and 10. Eric Anderson, formerly of the math department, will be in charge of 11th and 12th grade students. Together, we have been working to make sure everyone starts the new school year with a clear sense of our expectations. It is in the interest of achieving this that I release this summer newsletter.

Let me start by first stating how proud I am of the work that is done here by our dedicated faculty and staff, our wonderful students, and our supportive families. We are fortunate to be part of such a supportive culture at South Kingstown High School. We value our culture, and we as a school community recognize that we must be vigilant in maintaining this culture in order to maximize opportunities for our students. The core foundations of this school culture are safety, respect, personal accountability, and continuous improvement.

We also take a great deal of pride in our academic rigor, our comprehensive array of educational opportunities, and our diverse offering of extracurricular activities. SKHS students benefit from a talented faculty that emphasizes innovative teaching practices geared toward building essential skills for the 21st century. We strive to make learning dynamic, to respect and appreciate the diverse learning needs of all students, and to set high standards of achievement that will prepare all students for college and career. SKHS students have the opportunity to choose from Advanced Placement (AP) courses in every subject area. In 2015-2016, 210 students took a total of almost 450 AP exams in 19 different subject areas. Sixty-five (65) percent of all AP test takers received a score of 3 or better on the exam, which is the typical cut-off for college credit. This year, we are proud to add AP courses in Human Geography, European History and Economics, with the goal of adding AP Computer Science and AP Capstone in future years. SKHS students are also able to showcase their skills in athletics, the arts, technology, and many other extracurricular clubs and activities.

I am certain that the upcoming school year will add yet another layer to our school's proud tradition of excellence. You may email me with any questions at I look forward to seeing you all in the fall! Enjoy the rest of your summer and be well!!!

-Mr. Mezzanotte

Grading Changes for 2016-2017

We will be introducing new grading protocols for the high school this year. This change is the result of a multi-year effort that was conducted district-wide. The goal of the change is to align our school-wide practices with what is regarded to be research-based best practice in the field. We believe that these changes will increase transparency for students and families, will more accurately reflect a student's level of performance at the end of a marking period, and will provide students with multiple opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge and skills.

SKHS administrators will be hosting two separate Grading Workshops for parents and students. These will be held August 24th and September 8th. Both begin at 6:00 PM. Parents and students are strongly encouraged to attend one of these sessions.

Here are some important links related to this initiative:

  • Click HERE for access to our school-wide Grading Guidelines
  • Click HERE to access our Assessment Flowchart
  • Click HERE for grading and reporting resources from expert Thomas Guskey
  • Click HERE for a description of grade integrity from researcher Rick Wormeli
  • Click HERE for resources from the Great Schools Partnership
  • Click HERE for the SKSD Policy on Grading
  • Click HERE for the SKSD Student Achievement and Success Policy

Student Attendance Protocols

This year, we will be introducing some new protocols for student attendance. Below is the language, taken straight from our student handbook, that describes these new protocols. The purpose for this change is to further emphasize the importance in student attendance. These protocols are based on extensive research that draws a clear and direct connection between student attendance and high school graduation, college acceptance, college retention, and college completion.

Here are some relevant links that are pertinent to this topic:

RI Study on Impact of Chronic Absenteeism on College Persistence

Projo Article on RI Study

Why Attendance Matters

School Attendance Study

Resources Specific to Secondary School Attendance

SKHS Building Protocols for Attendance Incidents

Attendance Incidents include the following:

  • unexcused absences

  • tardies to school

  • unexcused early dismissals

  • class cuts/reverse cuts

SKHS Attendance Committee

  • The SKHS attendance committee will consist of administrators, deans of students, teachers, counselors, athletic director, school nurse, attendance paraprofessional and other individuals as needed.

  • The purpose of the committee will be to review attendance data and uphold expectations consistent with the district attendance policy.

  • Data will be collected and reviewed monthly and the committee will determine actions that are consistent with the goals of the district attendance policy.


  • If, during the data collection cycle, a student has accumulated attendance incidents that exceed ten percent of the total number of school days to that point the student will be placed on social probation until the next data collection cycle.

  • If, during the data collection cycle, a student has accumulated attendance incidents that exceed twenty percent of the total number of school days to that point the student will be placed on social probation until the next data collection cycle. The student will also be considered for Extended Social Probation.

Data Collection Cycles

  • August 31-September 30 (21 days)

  • October 4-November 4 (23 days)

  • November 7-December 9 (21 days)

  • December 12- January 27 (27 days)

  • January 30-March 10 (24 days)

  • March 13-April 13 (24 days)

  • April 24-May 26 (25 days)

  • May 30-end of year

Social Probation

  • Letter mailed home at five incidents to parents or guardians

  • Home phone call and/or meeting with parent or guardian

  • removal of senior parking passes (if applicable)

  • no participation in school dances, extracurricular events

  • no participation in field trips

  • Students who are assigned to social probation must have a minimum of seven attendance incidents.

Extended Social Probation

  • All social probation measures

  • Consideration for removal from co-curricular activities including athletics, extracurricular clubs and organizations.

  • Placement on hallway restriction list

  • Additional interventions and/or consequences can be determined by the attendance committee.


A student is considered truant when he/she purposely stays away from school without parent/guardian permission. Students who habitually miss school with parent/guardian permission, however, can be considered truant at the discretion of the administration.


South Kingstown High School does not distinguish between excused and unexcused tardies. Students who have an outstanding personal or medical circumstance that prevents them from coming to school on time should speak to their school counselor and provide the appropriate documentation. Students who arrive to school late must sign in at the attendance office where they will receive a pass to class. However, teachers will retain the right to send students back to the Attendance Office if their late arrival to class/interruption causes a disruption to learning.

Each Tardy

  • Parents will be notified by the automated telephone system each time their son/daughter is tardy to school.
  • After the fifth tardy to school, students will receive an office detention for each subsequent tardy. Exceptions to this will be for tardies excused by a doctor’s note or other recognized excusable tardy.
  • Students who arrive to school after 8:00 AM without an approved excuse will be treated as having cut a class, and will be disciplined accordingly.


In order to participate in a co-curricular activity sponsored by South Kingstown High School, students must be present in school during the day. Co-curricular activities include but are not limited to drama rehearsals and productions, proms, school dances, and athletic practices and competitions. Exceptions for any absence or dismissal on these days must have prior approval of an administrator. Advisors/coaches are responsible for monitoring student attendance to determine which students are eligible to participate on the day of the activity. Students who arrive later than 9:00 am or leave prior to 12:30 pm will not be allowed to participate in a SKHS-sponsored afternoon or evening activity.


Each student and teacher has the right to expect class time free of interruptions such as a student coming into class late without a verifiable excuse.

  • Students who arrive tardy to class without a pass will receive a teacher-assigned detention. Students will not be allowed extra time to make up work if they arrive tardy without a pass.

  • Students will be allowed to enter class with a pass from a staff member at any time without any consequences. However, teachers will retain the right to send students back to the Attendance Office if their late arrival to class/interruption causes a disruption to learning.


  • Student Responsibilities

    • Students are expected to attend every class

    • Unauthorized absences from class are prohibited.

    • All class cuts will be considered an attendance incident, in accordance with the SKHS building protocols.

    • Students will receive disciplinary consequences for each class cut/reverse cut (2 after school detentions for a first offense).

  • Teacher Responsibilities

    • Teachers will contact parents or guardian for the first three offenses.

    • Teachers will notify administration for each offense according to established protocols.

  • Administrative Responsibilities

    • Administrators will assign timely consequences in accordance with the Disciplinary Infraction Table.

    • Administrators will enforce social probation/truancy protocols in accordance with the district attendance policy.

    • Administrators will maintain communication with parents or guardians and teachers.

Student Handbook Changes

In the interest in providing clear expectations to all students as we begin the year, I would like to highlight some changes to the student handbook for the 2016-2017 school year. The purpose behind these changes is to emphasize the fact that our school's primary objective is learning, and that our school culture directly impacts our collective ability meet our academic goals. Please reference the student handbook for all expectations.

Student Dress Code

  • The most significant change in the dress code for this year is that hats will no longer be permitted to be worn in the school building. All students will be asked to remove their hats when they enter the building. As a continuation of previous practice, hoods, bandanas, or similar headwear will also be prohibited.
  • Students are reminded that all clothing must cover them from shoulder to mid-thigh.
  • Clothing that promotes the use of violence, drugs, alcohol and/or sexual activity is prohibited.
  • Administration makes final judgments on appropriateness of attire.
  • Students will be reminded of these expectations at the beginning of the school year.

Cell Phones/Electronic Devices

  • Students are issued laptops that are for educational purposes. These laptops are school property and students are expected to maintain proper care of these devices.
  • Teachers may permit students to use their personal cell phones or electronic devices for educational purposes. Additionally, students may used their cell phones appropriately during lunch and advisory period. Cell phones, earbuds or other electronic devices may not be used in the hallway during passing time.
  • Cell phones are NEVER to be used to photograph, video record, or audio record another student or staff member without his/her consent. Any student in violation of this will be subject to strict disciplinary consequences, as outlined in the student handbook.


  • Advisory meets four days per week. The purpose of advisory is to provide each student with a personalized space for their four years of high school. All students are expected to attend advisory each day, like every other class.
  • If a student wishes to meet with another teacher or staff member during advisory, he/she must obtain a pass from that teacher in advance and present that pass to the advisory teacher.

Academic Honesty

South Kingstown High School believes in upholding the highest standards of integrity and academic honesty. It is expected that all students meet these standards in their academic work. Examples of infractions include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Intentionally copying the original work of another

  • Intentionally allowing others to copy your original work

  • Plagiarizing material from a source

Infractions will be reported to administration, who will in turn conduct an investigation into the matter. Students found to have committed an infraction will receive the following consequences:

  • The student must complete the assessment

  • The student will receive a score of fifty (50) on the assessment

  • The teacher will contact the student’s parent/guardian

  • The student will be ineligible for/removed from National and/or Rhode Island Honors Societies, with no possibility of reinstatement.

Athletics Information from Mr. Lynch

Fall Sports start dates:

Football August 11

All Other Fall Sports August 22

All interested athletes must register on Family ID, turn in an Assumption of Risk Form and a most recent Physical before they are eligible to participate. This information is located on the South Kingstown website under Athletics.

Meet the Coaches Night, Monday August 15 at 6:00 PM in the Auditorium. All Fall athletes must attend and be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Our featured speaker will be Brian Beneduce, Motivate for Success, Overcoming Fear and Anxiety.

Schedule Rotation/Teacher Common Planning

We have changed our period rotation for this year. Please note that every Wednesday teachers have common planning time in the morning. On these days, students are not required to be in school until 8:15 AM. If students arrive early to school on those days they are expected to report to the cafeteria or the library until school begins. Adult supervision will be provided in these locations.

HERE is the new bell schedule

HERE is the new period rotation

Important Dates to Remember

  • August 18th- 9th Grade Laptop Distribution at 6:00 PM
  • August 24th- Student schedules go live to parents, students in Skyward
  • August 24th- Grading Workshop for parents and students at 6:00 PM
  • August 25th- Freshmen/New Student Orientation AND Laptop Distribution at 6:00 PM
  • August 30th- Teacher Orientation Day
  • August 31st- First Day for Students
  • September 5th- Labor Day (No School)
  • September 8th- Grading Workshop for parents and students at 6:00 PM
  • September 13th- Teacher Professional Day (no school for students)
  • September 14th- Underclassmen Pictures
  • September 28th- Back to School Night (Time TBA)


At South Kingstown High School we make a concerted effort to keep our families and community partners aware of all the great things happening at our school. To this end, we utilize multiple communication methods.
  • The high school website is the primary tool for all communication. Our website is updated daily with all school announcements. It also contains upcoming events, important dates, documents, links to teacher emails, daily schedule rotations, and other important information. There is also a guidance page that includes important information from our guidance department. This page is updated weekly.
  • SKHS teachers have established individual Google Classroom pages containing important information for their classes.
  • Parents are able to access the Skyward parent portal for updates on their child's academic progress. To access the parent portal, parents simply need to login to Skyward, username: last name first initial (no space in between), password southkingstown*. Parents will then be prompted to change their password.
  • South Kingstown High School has a strong presence on twitter. It is recommended that you follow these accounts: @rmezzanotte, @skingstownhs, @terryt9lynch.
  • A Principal's Newsletter is distributed each quarter highlighting school and student achievements. If you have anything that is worthy of recognition please email it to me at If possible, please include a photograph.
  • Our school utilizes automated phone and email messages. Please make sure you have accurate phone numbers and email addresses in Skyward in order to receive this information.